First Principle of Bible Study

In this life a Christian strives to be spiritually mature – Christlike. In this journey, and even for those who grow to spiritual maturity, life is an endless drawing closer to God, and allowing Him to change us from the inside out. It’s a ceaseless approaching to Him.

So how does this work? How do we come closer to Him?

I’d like to explore this question by taking a look at various ways of coming close to God. These are usually called spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices, and are to help us in the “process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others” (as Robert Mulholland, Jr defines them). One of these disciplines is Bible study, the foundation for our understanding of God and His will for our lives.

But before we get into the practics of how to read the Bible for life application, we need a foundation.  Just like a house is built from the foundation up to the walls and roof, so our spiritual life needs a firm foundation for understanding God and His ways.

So in the next several blogs I want to spend some time on the foundation of the discipline of Bible study. Unless we begin with the right foundation — a right understanding of God and His Word — the whole building will collapse.

Understanding some basic principles of studying the Bible will not only enable us to know God and His will better, but will also protect us from going astray.

The first principle is . . .

. . . that we must accept the entire Bible as God’s Word to us.

If we do not read the Bible as God’s sacred Book – ALL of it – we can be misunderstanding its message. This means that we must read from Genesis to Revelation and realize that God inspired all of it.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

Obviously when Paul was writing, he was talking about the Tanakh, the “Old Testament.” Paul was trained in the Scriptures, and probably knew much by heart

While he wrote these words near the end of his life, and may have seen one or two accounts of Jesus’ life by that time (or may not have), it is also true that the New Testament wasn’t formed into a canon until long after Paul. So when he spoke about the Scriptures he referred to the Tanakh, the Scripture he had learned from a child.

The same with Timothy. Paul commends him, saying,

“from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15.

The only Scriptures Timothy had growing up was the Tanakh.

This means that the message of Genesis or Psalms or Isaiah is still relevant to us.

Certainly those things that specifically pointed to Jesus’ coming have now been fulfilled. Thankfully, we no longer need to sacrifice animals in anticipation of the coming of the Lamb because the Lamb has already come.

But the truth in the Tanakh still stands and is still relevant. We can learn from it, even from those things that pointed to Jesus’ coming as a human and are already fulfilled.

In Jesus’ time the Sadducees did not believe in any other portion of the Tanakh except the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Not believing in the whole Scripture available to them left them disagreeing with the Pharisees and others, and missing out on some biblical understandings.

Many people now believe that the New Testament is the only Bible, and discount what has been written in the Tanakh as “outdated,” or not relevant.

But if we are going to understand the words of Scripture both for truth and for our life, we must understand that all Scripture is inspired and profitable for us.

When Jesus spoke about the Scriptures, He was also talking about the Tanakh.  Stop and think about it – when Jesus was on earth, the Gospels had not yet been written – they were being lived! So the only Bible that Jesus and the disciples knew was the Tanakh.

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

Yes, even the Tanakh testified about Jesus!  After His resurrection He still pointed people to the Tanakh. He walked with two men to Emmaus . . .

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” Luke 24:27.

The first principle of Bible study, then, is to realize that God’s message to us is found in the entirety of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and is valid and relevant to us today. To disregard any part of Scripture is to walk in uncharted territory where God has not trod.  But He does know the way of all Scripture for He wrote it.

“For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish” Psalm 1:6.

How have you related to the Bible as a whole? Please leave a comment below!



About Pastor Sherry

Hi, I'm Pastor Sherry! I'm a Ministry and Spiritual Life Coach, and am committed to helping you Reach For The Summit of your relationship with God. This includes developing or transforming your personal devotional life as well as breaking through barriers such as Unloving, Fear, Bitterness, that are preventing you from the kind of connection with God that you seek. I'd love to connect with you on Facebook (Pastor Sherry, Reach For The Summit), LinkedIn (Pastor Sherry), and Twitter (PastorSherry1). To receive my monthly newsletter, please sign in to the opt-in box at the top of this page!
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14 Responses to First Principle of Bible Study

  1. Once we understand the nature of the biblical writings, we will begin to find rich and wonderful Truth hidden within its pages. May it be the experience of each of us to learn from the Bible, such a wonderful repository of Truth.

  2. Sherry, I can\’t explain to you how much I love this post, my heart was racing as I read it and my spirit was so happy. Thank you sooooooooooooo much it\’s rare to find a non-Messianic who holds this belief and has a balanced view of the Bible. Just the other day I was reading psalm 1, 119 and Joshua 1 in the AMP and kept on hearing the words that God has been saying to me for weeks now \”meditate on my law/words both day and night and day you will be prosperous and have good success\”. The entire Word of God is crucial for life, I could go on but I have a feeling that you will pick up on it in this series.
    Florence Achama recently posted..Mirror, mirror on the wall: what do you see when you look into the mirror?

    • Hi Florence, I\’m glad you resonated with this post! Yes, absolutely the entire Bible is inspired and still meaningful. And I love the admonition you mentioned to to meditate in Torah day and night. It was true then and it\’s still true today — and that meditation includes all of God\’s Word. We are blessed to not have only half of a Bible, but the entire Bible!

  3. Helen Murray says:

    Thankyou for this. A timely reminder for me; I know that I leave vast tracts of the Bible unexplored because they\’re too hard, or too alien to me. I\’ve never really considered that Jesus was not talking about the yet-to-be written NT when he spoke of Scripture.
    Helen Murray recently posted..It\’s not about me

    • Hi Helen, yes, so often we only look at the New Testament and forget that it is not all of God\’s inspired word. And yes, there are plenty of passages in Scripture that are hard to understand. Sometimes background information can unlock them for us; other times it may take a lot more study. But then, one of the beautiful things about God\’s Word is that no matter how much we study, there\’s always more to learn!

  4. Cheryl Cope says:

    I appreciate you emphasis on the word of God and the *whole* word of God at that! Well said.

  5. Richard A. Maxwell says:

    All though I agree with all you say, the first foundation to be laid is our relationship with God, for without that relationship all the bible studies in the world will not help. We have to allow God into our lives and to let him as the song goes,”Take the wheel.” God has to first come into our lives and change our way of thinking and the way we look at things, a change in our attitude toward others, life, and towards ourselves. When I excepted Christ in my life I had to get rid of all the knowledge I thought I knew about God and start all over again with a fresh new outlook, and only God could do that for me, then I was ready to learn the truth about Him.
    You are reaching out to others in these troublesome times and my thoughts and prayers go out for your work. Thank you for this article.

    • Yes, of course you’re right, Richard. Relationship with God is a must, or we will not go deep with our Bible study. Thanks for bringing up this angle!

      And . . . it’s interesting that you had to let go of what you thought you knew about God before you could really know Him! So many misconceptions.

      Thanks for the prayers — always accepted and appreciated!

  6. Eva says:

    Hi Pastor Sherry:
    I remember a time when I only concentrated on the New Testament. WOW was I missing out on much more understanding by not studying and looking into the Old Testament. To quickly comment on Richards comment about our relationship with God. I tell those when I am vending with JesusRx that when receiving the “Great Physician” they will be open to understanding God’s word. ( Holy Spirit will lead them to understanding) I am sure to tell others NOT to take the verses out of context, but go back and read the verses before and after in God’s word. It is wonderful how when reading through the Bible the Old and New testaments continue to speak of God’s love and forgiveness. As you said the WHOLE bible is relevant today!
    Eva recently posted..‘EVER NEED AN ENCOURAGING WORD?”

    • Thanks for your comment, Eva! Yes, it sure is all relevant! So often the entire focus is placed on the New Testament, but the New Testament builds from the Old Testament (the Tanakh), so if we don’t understand the Tanakh, we won’t understand the New Testament very well. Like reading someone’s first few letters before reading their current ones that assume we already understand what came before.

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